Richard Knaub-Scottsbluff

Scottsbluff (Class of 1954)
The Nebraska High School Athlete of the Year in 1954, Knaub was a four-year letterman in track and a two-year letterman in football and basketball, earning all-conference and all-state honors. On the track, he established three state records and won all-class gold medals in the pole vault his sophomore and junior seasons and in the long jump his junior year. Knaub won the state pentathlon as a senior, but was injured at the state track meet. He helped UCLA win the NCAA championship in 1956 and won two conference long jump championships. He competed in the 1956 Olympic Trials in the long jump.

Ray Knaub – Scottsbluff

. Ray Knaub’s athleticism helped make Scottsbluff High School a threat in statewide competition and his track exploits put his name on the all-time charts as he dominated the high school Big Ten Conference. He won state track meet gold medals in the 100- and 220-yard dashes and ran on gold medal-winning 880-yard relays teams. He claimed a share of the state record in the 100 (9.8 second). In college, he was a member of Baylor University’s Southwest Conference championship track team, winning the 100 in the conference, in the Texas Relays and the Kansas Relays and reached championships status in the conference indoor 60-yard hurdles. Lives in Lakewood, CO.



Jenny Kropp-Goess – Grand Island Central Catholic

Jenny Kropp-Goess

Grand Island Central Catholic


Jenny Kropp-Goess spent her high school career rewriting the record book at Grand Island Central Catholic.  A four-year letter winner in basketball and volleyball and an all-state selection in both. it was soon clear that she had exceptional volleyball skills.  Leading the Crusaders to the state finals three times and the state Championship in 1994 , she set school records with 25 kills in a game, 359 kills in a season, 1010 kills in a career and 102 blocks in a season.  In basketball, she set the school record for rebounds with 716 and for blocks in a game (17), season (179) and areer (412).  She went  on to earn All-American honors playing volleyball at Nebraska, helping the Huskers win four big 12 conference titles and reach the NCAA championship match three times.  Coach John Cook said she was the heart of the Huskers 2000 national championship team.  After college, she played professional indoor volleyball in Puerto Rico before embarking on a successful career in professional beach volleyball.

Sue Kobza Long – Schuyler

Athlete. The halls of Schuyler High School echoed for quite some time at the exploits of Sue Kobza, one of the best girl athletes at a time when women’s high school sports in Nebraska was undergoing a modern resurgence. A three-sport athlete at Schuyler Central, she lettered three years in both volleyball and basketball, but she claimed track as her true athletic love and followed in a family tradition by throwing the discus. Sue started early by setting discus records in youth competition while in junior high and won second place in the state high school meet her freshman year, her lowest state meet finish. She won the Class B discus throw her sophomore, junior and senior years at the state track meet, setting records each time. She carried her love for track into the Junior Olympics and was a national champion in her final year in 1977. A good student at the University of Nebraska, she lettered one year in basketball and three years in track & field.


Don Kelley – Lincoln Pius X

Don Kelley 2007Coach, Lincoln Pius X. Kelley coached boys and girls state championships at Lincoln Pius X. He coached six-man football and basketball at Ohiowa from 1959 to 1961 before becoming the boys basketball coach at Norfolk Catholic. He moved on to Lincoln Pius X where he coached boys basketball from 1968 to 1980, advancing to the state tournament five times and winning the state championship in 1974. In 1985, he became the girls coach, leading the Thunderbolts to five state tournament appearances in seven years and winning the state title in 1991 and 1992. His combined boys and girls coaching record is 371-188.

Jess Keifer – Holdrege


Coach. His tenure as head football coach of the Holdrege Dusters covered a span of 25 years, achieving a 120 wins and being awarded three Omaha World-Herald mythical state championships. Those came in 1950, 1953 and 1959 with two undefeated seasons in 1953 and 1958. During the 1950s, the Dusters missed being in the top 10 ratings just twice. Jess was best known for his Single-Wing offense, which later evolved into the wing-T. He also served as track coach for 38 years and was cross country coach after retiring from his football job. Jess was named the Coach of the Year by the Omaha World-Herald for the 1959-60 school year when his football and track team both won state championships. He was named assistant coach for the first Nebraska Shrine game in 1959 and was the head coach of the all-star game the next year, tutoring the South to 46-7 victory.

Other honors include recognition by Kearney State College for his outstanding contribution to high school athletics and having the Holdrege football field and stadium renamed Keifer Field-Memorial Stadium.

Joanne Kappas – Bellevue East-Bellevue West-Omaha Bryan

2011 InducteeCoach
In an unequalled coaching career, Joanne Kappas watched her volleyball teams collect 11 state championship trophies, including six straight from 1992-1997. She started at Bellevue East, coaching for five years before moving on to a 19-year career at Bellevue West. She finished at Omaha Bryan, completing a unique triple crown of leading three different schools to the Class A state tournament.  While achieving 24 state tournament appearances in her 28-year career, she compiled a 774-210 record.

Gene Kruger – Elkhorn

Coach.  After serving three years in the United States Marine Corps, Gene attended Midland College receiving his B.S. in 1946. His first teaching and coaching job was at his hometown of Arlington, heading up all sports. He made the move to Elkhorn in 1949 where he hired on as assistant coach in all sports and taught math. The next year he was moved up to head basketball and track coach. He got the head football job in 1951. To all this, he added the responsibilities of athletic director until 1955 when he left teaching for private business. The lure of the classroom brought him back to education in 1960 when he returned to Elkhorn as a coach of all sports, athletic director, and math teacher. Over the next 15 years he gradually eased out of coaching one sport at a time but remained as AD until 1980. His track teams garnered several district championships with two winning the state runner-up trophy. He was selected as North All-Star basketball coach in 1970. 

Jami Kubik Hagedorn – Cambridge

2011 Inductee

Class of 1994

Jami Kubik did it all for the Cambridge Trojans, who dominated their class in her time. With Kubik one of the centers of attention,
Cambridge won back-to-back state volleyball and back-to-back state basketball championships. She earned all-state honors in volleyball as a junior and a senior, and was the honorary Class C1 all-state captain in 1993, and she was four-time state track qualifier in three events, setting school records in the 100-meter high hurdles, the 300-meter low hurdles, the long jump and the 1,600-meter relay. But she excelled in basketball above all other sports, starting Cambridge on its 81-game winning streak. Nebraska’s Miss Basketball in 1994, she was a two-time all-class all-state pick, scoring 564 points her senior season. At the University of Nebraska, she lettered for four years, playing on two NCAA Tournament teams and earning Academic All-Big Eight honors.

Nile Kinnick – Omaha Benson

Athlete–One of the most nationally known of all Omaha high school graduates, this Benson High product (Class of 35) became a football legend. His athletic skills were abundantly clear, for he starred in track & field, was named all-state in football and helped Benson nearly reach the top in Class A basketball.

Attending college at the University of Iowa, Nile Kinnick was awarded the Heisman Trophy in 1939 for his outstanding efforts on behalf of the Hawkeyes. In his acceptance speech at the Heisman dinner, Kinnick reflected the prevailing isolationist mood of the country, saying he thanked God he had been born in America “where they have football fields instead of in Europe where they have battlefields.” And he added that he knew “the football players of this country had rather battle for such medals as the Heisman Trophy than for such medals as the Croix de Guerre and the Iron Cross.” Sadly, he was lost while a Naval flier during World War II. Today several gridirons in both Nebraska and Iowa bear his name as a true competitor and

Nile Kinnick is said to be one the Hawkeyes’ greatest football players. In his football career gained 1,674 yards. In his senior year, he completed 31 passes for 638 yards; over three years were good for 2,834 yards, an average of 39.9 yards per kick. His return of kickoffs and punts totaled 604 yards, and he made 11 of his 17-drop kick attempts.

Nile was elected to the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in 1951.

Nile Kinnick, Halfback  Iowa, 1937-1939

Much stock has been put into the legendary aspect of the player and what he meant to his school and to college football. No player in college football history meant more to a whole state than Nile Kinnick meant to Iowa becoming its most popular hero and is still today its most revered icon. If you want the ultimate model of what a student/athlete should be, Kinnick was it as a Heisman winner on the football field and a honor student and class president off of it.

The Iron man of Iron Men: Iowa football wasn’t exactly a power in the world of college football in the 1930s as its neighbor to the north, Minnesota, was busy owning the Midwest. After going 2-13-1 and scoring a total of 82 points in 1937 and 1938, Dr. Eddie Anderson took over the head coaching job and Iowa went on to have a season for the ages winning games in dramatic fashion with a group of two way players outlasting several big-time powerhouses with specialists on offense and defense. 

Kinnick had a flair for the dramatic making the game-winning play against Indiana choosing to throw for a fifteen yard touchdown pass rather than try the game-tying field goal. After an early 27-7 loss to Michigan, he took care of Wisconsin on a late touchdown pass for 19-13 win. Losing player after player to injury, Iowa had only 14 healthy players late against Purdue in the 4-0 win. Iowa upset No. 1 Notre Dame 7-6 using only 15 players with Kinnick punting 16 times for 731 yards including a 63-yard boot under a heavy rush pinning the Irish on the six-yard line late in the game. Many still consider it the greatest clutch punt in college football history. Kinnick also scored Iowa’s only touchdown. The following week the “Iron man” team of Iowa upset the might Minnesota squad 13-9. 

The Iron Man of the Iron Man team played 402 consecutive minutes before getting knocked out of the Northwestern game with a separated shoulder. Kinnick was the star of the show all year throwing for 638 yards and 11 touchdowns on only 31 passes and ran for 374 yards. In his career he gained 1,674 yards returning kickoffs for 604 yards. As a kicker, Kinnick punted 71 times in his career for a 39.9 average and hit 11 of 17 drop kicks. In 1939, Kinnick was involved in 16 of the 19 touchdowns (11 passing, 5 rushing) Iowa scored and responsive for 107 of Iowa’s 130 points.

The Heisman speech: In perhaps the most eloquent Heisman speech ever given, Kinnick finished with this epic passage. “If you will permit me, I’d like to make a comment which in my mind is indicative, perhaps, of the greater significance of football, and sports emphasis in general in this country, and that is, I thank God I was warring on the gridirons of the Midwest, and not on the battlefields of Europe. I can speak confidently and positively that the players of this country, would much more, much rather struggle and fights to win the Heisman award, than the Croix de Guerre.”

The “big” man on campus: Along with being the star of the football team, Kinnick was senior class president, a Phi Betta Kappa and a member of the national scholastic honor society.

The World War II fighter: Following his Iowa career, Kinnick chose to go to law school and join the Naval Air Corps Reserve. In 1943, Kinnick’s fighter plane went down in the Caribbean sea on a training flight. In 1972, the University changed the name of Iowa Stadium to Kinnick Stadium to honor their hero.


  • College Football Hall of Fame – 1951
  • Heisman Trophy – 1939
  • Walter Camp Award – 1939
  • Maxwell Award – 1939
  • All-America – 1939
  • Big Ten MVP – 1939
  • No. 24 Iowa jersey retired
  • Selected the greatest player in Iowa history by the fans – 1989